The Council of Grand Justices on Thursday ruled to uphold the legality of opposition lawmakers introducing a motion for a vote of no confidence during an extraordinary session in the legislature in 2012.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said he welcomes the decision.
“This is belated justice for us,” Ker said yesterday. “It affirmed the action taken by the DPP at the time conformed to the spirit of the Constitution.”
The decision affirmed the right of legislators to introduce a no-confidence vote, a right granted by the Constitution.
During an extraordinary session of the legislature in July 2012, Ker led DPP, Taiwan Solidarity Union and People First Party legislators to introduce a vote of no confidence against then-premier Sean Chen and his Cabinet.
However, the motion was blocked by then-legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Wang said he barred the motion as it was in violation of Article 6, Item 1 of the Organic Law of the legislative Yuan (立法院組織法), not allowing the motion to be placed on the Legislative meeting agenda.
As a result, Ker, along with 45 legislators, petitioned to the Judicial Yuan for interpretation according to the Constitution.
In July 2012 there was much public discontent over a series of government issues, including price hikes on gasoline and electricity, the spread of avian influenza infections, the proposal to open the nation to US meat imports and a bribery scandal involving former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世).
“We were convening for the extraordinary session. As it was also a meeting in the legislature, of course, we could introduce the motion for a vote of no confidence,” Ker said. “It was to show people’s dissatisfaction with the poor performance of premier Chen and his Cabinet.”
“We were blocked from introducing the motion, but we believed legislators had a constitutional right to do so. Therefore, the petition was presented to the Judicial Yuan for interpretation,” he added.
Wang, who is now a lawmaker, said that nobody at the time knew Article 6, Item 1 was unconstitutional and he was following the law for his arbitration during the dispute.
“It was not me, but the law that was unconstitutional,” Wang said.
The Constitutional Court’s interpretation means that legislators can introduce a no-confidence motion at extraordinary sessions of the legislature, and as Article 6, Item 1 contradicts the Constitution, it can not be applied to no-confidence votes.
Thursday’s decision was seen as a put-down against Wang and a victory for Ker and the DPP.
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